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News of the Weird


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In January at the Lake Como Fish and Game Club near Syracuse, New York, Brian Carr beat out three dozen competitors in the annual ice-fishing derby, with 155 catches. The temperature that day was minus 30, and prize money for the top three anglers was $8, $6.50, and $5.

The Continuing Crisis

In Las Vegas in November thieves broke into the car of James Ross and Maryo Griffin just before they were to be married and stole, among other things, a cardboard box containing the ashes of Ross's first wife, Judy. Ross and Griffin had planned to scatter the ashes in the Grand Canyon, then marry in Las Vegas, dramatizing for Griffin the end of Ross's first marriage. Said Griffin, "They got Judy. I don't see how we can be married until we get Judy taken care of."

In January game wardens near Arambagh, India, finally managed to round up 50 renegade elephants that had gone on a rampage, trampling at least six people to death as they covered more than 250 miles. In two days the elephants could have reached Calcutta, where they might have done even more damage. The elephants couldn't be killed because they're an endangered species, but people used stones, spears, fires, and tribal drumbeats to head them off.

The Times of London reported in January that a recent feud in the southern French town of Pia was coming to a head. Animal-rights activist Joelle Cinca happens to live next door to one of France's top pornographic film producers, Gerard Menoud, who sometimes shoots sex scenes in his yard. Menoud claims that the noise made by the geese Cinca keeps in her garden gets onto his sound tracks; Cinca claims that the loud orgasms of Menoud's actresses have traumatized her geese.

Susan Franano, general manager of the Kansas City Symphony, suspended oboist Ken Lawrence in January after he made a "facetious response" to a complaint about him. Franano had told him that a horn player had complained that during a rehearsal for The Nutcracker Lawrence had passed gas in a loud manner, "creating an overpowering smell."

Officials at the Tokyo Sea Life Park aquarium reported in November that about 10 percent of its bluefin and yellowfin tuna have developed deformed faces because of the "stress" of swimming in a small tank. Large bumps have appeared on the faces of some fish; other fishes' eyes have become partially dislodged.

In December Atlanta attorney Dennis Scheib stopped by the prosecutor's office on his way to court to represent a new client in a criminal case. Just outside the office he saw two officers chasing a man down the hall and joined in to help. After the man was handcuffed, Scheib learned he was the client he'd come to court to represent.

In January the government of Brazil reported an annual inflation rate for 1993 of 2,500 percent, and Yugoslavia reported that the cost of living rose 6 trillion percent over the year. In Belgrade a factory that manufactures steel springs paid its workers in live pigs rather than money. In Rio de Janeiro a survey sponsored by the weekly newsmagazine Isto E found that inflation was at least partly responsible for the diminished frequency of sexual relations in Brazil--from an average of three times a week to 1.6. Said a Sao Paulo psychotherapist, "You can't be a victim in the street and a hero in bed."

The wife of Peter Harrower was granted a divorce in Edinburgh, Scotland, in January after 46 years of marriage because Harrower cussed too much. Magistrate Nigel Thomson said the clinching factor was that Harrower's 21-month-old grandson had begun to cuss after being around him.

In December the Illinois Appellate Court postponed indefinitely the electric-shock therapy that had been prescribed for Lucille Austwick, 80. Lower courts had declared her mentally incompetent and had scheduled the therapy, but her guardian testified that when informed of the therapy she'd said, "That's ridiculous. If they want to do that, let them go shock themselves."

The Torrance, California, Daily Breeze reported in December that several parents were protesting the decision of an El Segundo, California, skateboard manufacturer to call itself "Bitch" and to feature a company logo of a man pointing a gun at the head of a woman. The newspaper reported that an employee who answered the phone at the company said the name and logo weren't designed to offend anyone. "It's called doing our own thing," he said. "It's the 90s."

A veterinarian in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, England, told the Associated Press in February that the cause of attrition among swans that have populated the River Tweed since medieval times is recent clean-water rules. Dr. David Rollo said the swans' main food--effluent from decaying barley--is no longer abundant in the river. And the Environmental Protection Agency recently ordered the city of San Diego to stop its cleanup of a portion of the Tijuana River because the efforts would cause irreparable harm to the "sewage-based ecology."

The Weirdo-American Community

Rachel Barton-Russell petitioned a court in Springfield, Oregon, in February for a ruling on the meaning of the state's law against corpse abuse. Her deceased husband, Donal Eugene Russell, had declared in his will that he wanted his skin used to make book covers for a collection of his poetry, but the state Mortuary and Cemetery Board claims that carrying out the request could make a funeral home liable for corpse abuse.

Least Competent Person

In Fort Lauderdale in February accused murderer Donald Leroy Evans, 38, filed a pretrial motion asking permission to wear a Ku Klux Klan robe in the courtroom and to be referred to in legal documents by "the honorable and respected name of Hi Hitler." According to courthouse employees interviewed by the Associated Press, Evans didn't realize Adolph Hitler's followers were saying "Heil, Hitler."

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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